Centre for Supply Chain Improvement - Research - University of Derby

Centre for Supply Chain Improvement

The Centre for Supply Chain Improvement The College of Business, Law and Social Sciences has a long-standing record as a Centre of Excellence in supply chain and logistics

Developing excellence in operations and across supply chains

We know the importance of sustainable, lean and agile supply chains and internal operations to the growth of the economy and to service the daily needs of industries and consumers.

Our relationship with professional institutes and international societies such as the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and the Society of Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, keeps our thinking relevant, meaningful and clear. It’s not thinking in a bubble; it’s thinking about business.

Our academic work is led by industry needs and contemporary research streams. Our research develops theories and provides knowledge that address some of most critical challenges that organisations are currently facing in the design, management and improvement of their supply chains and internal operations. Our knowledge transfer activities also contribute in bridging the gap between theoretical research and these challenges to positively transform the operations of businesses.

How we work

The CSCI has three broad focuses: technology innovation, system improvement, and process re-engineering. We look vertically within organisations and their internal operations, and horizontally across their supply chains.


Our members actively publish in top ranked business, operations, supply chain and logistics journals by commanding research interests and expertise in areas that include Business and Process Excellence; Systematic Innovation; Lean Six Sigma; Green Lean; Sustainable, Green and Circular Operations and Supply Chains; Quality Management; Cost and System Optimisation; System Modelling and Simulation; Artificial Intelligence; among other relevant research themes. The CSCI founded and currently co-edits the International Journal of Supply Chain and Operations Resilience (Inderscience) and our academic colleagues are members of numerous editorial boards and scientific/technical committees of various international conferences. They are also developing international leadership profiles in their particular fields.

An example of our applied research is represented through our leadership in the field of Lean Logistics.

Case Study - Making logistics leaner

Prof. Jose Arturo Garza-Reyes, Professor in Operations Management and Head of the Centre for Supply Chain Improvement, has been researching a new approach to tackling the inefficiencies of road transportation. “Traditionally, these practical inefficiencies have been addressed through complex mathematical modelling, operations research-based methods, and simulation,” explains Prof. Garza-Reyes. “The aim of my research is to investigate whether lean manufacturing principles, methods and tools (which are commonly employed by manufacturing and service organisations to improve their operations) could be applied to improve logistics and road transport operations.”

Prof. Garza-Reyes’ research has had clear commercial impact: it has so far helped five distribution companies in Mexico and Colombia to significantly reduce their number of routes, distance travelled, excess service time, demand not satisfied, and emission of harmful gases. It has also increased their Transportation Overall Vehicle Effectiveness (TOVE), average number of clients served per route and vehicle capacity utilisation. “One large Mexican organisation, which transports frozen and refrigerated products, was able to reduce its distribution routes by 27% and distance travelled by 32%” explains Dr Garza-Reyes. 

He has also had four papers published on this subject in highly regarded international journals such as Production Planning & Control, Industrial Management & Data Systems, and the International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications. He has also co-authored two conference papers which were published and presented in the 20th Logistics Research Network (LRN) Conference in Derby, UK and the 27th International Conference on Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing (FAIM) in Modena, Italy.

Impact on teaching and learning

The lean logistics research has led to the recruitment of a PhD student, who is undertaking further work in this area under the supervision of Prof. Garza-Reyes and Dr Tony Anosike. In addition, this work is being used as a case study for the master-level module Improving Supply Chain and Logistics Operations of the MSc in Supply Chain Improvement offered by the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences. Since most of the students taking this module are in employment, they have been able to replicate this application of lean thinking within their own organisations.


The lean logistics research is an international collaboration involving academics from several institutions in the UK and Mexico: University of Derby, University of Warwick, University of the West of England, University of Coventry, Universidad de Monterrey (Mexico), Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Mexico), and the Mexican Institute of Transportation. Prof. Garza-Reyes is leading this collaboration and is supported by the following colleagues at the University of Derby: Dr Tony Anosike, Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management, and Mr Simon Peter Nadeem, Graduate Teaching Assistant and PhD researcher.

A measure of our work’s value is in the external funding we’ve secured for projects from:

  • British Academy
  • British Council
  • Innovate UK
  • Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT)

Our industrial partners include large organisations, such as Toyota, Bombardier, East Midlands Trains, Rolls-Royce, as well as a range of SMEs across different industries: logistics and distribution, warehousing, packaging, manufacturing, software development, sales and service sector.

What we offer

We explore the most efficient and cost-effective ways to achieve excellence within, and across, supply chains and internal operations through:

  • Bespoke training solutions and short-courses (e.g. Innovation and System Thinking, Lean Thinking Basics and Tools Applications, Statistical Process Control, Value Stream Mapping, etc.);
  • Consultancy and advice servicesto carry out research, make recommendations, explore emerging technologies and propose solutions to achieve excellence in supply chain and internal operations (e.g. manufacturing and services performance improvement, distribution network optimisation);
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) scheme;
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate education - BSc (Hons) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, BSc (Hons) in Logistics Management, MSc in Supply Chain Improvement, MPhil, PhD, DProf, DBA;
  • Student projects.

We do offer PhD, DProf, DBA and MPhil degrees to undertake research projects in topics related to the expertise and interest of the CSCI members. We also welcome visiting scholars to join us to exchange knowledge and research findings.